Winter has a funny way of feeling like fall right about now.
I think it’s just new-semester weather:
The brisk mornings give way to trees that snap in the wind.
The sun is out, and students study outdoors in brightly-colored lawn chairs.
After a winter break that rid campus of most signs of life, it is once again teeming with activity.
Returning to campus, I made the decision to look into joining an eating club. Here’s a diary snapshot of what my experience has been like:
What is Street Week?
Well, first, what is an eating club?
Eating clubs are honestly a Princeton social construct. Think of a co-ed social group (not unlike a frat or sorority) except it also doubles as a dining hall for many upperclassmen.
Street week is a series of events tailored towards recruiting new members to join an eating club. Some clubs require you to undergo a process called bicker (the equivalent of rushing a sorority/fraternity) and some allow you to sign-in and join based on a lottery system.
Why Am I Participating?
Since returning from study abroad, I’ve felt disconnected from the other juniors on campus. Last semester, I was independent–meaning I cooked my own meals. As a result, I also ate on my own.
As my time starts to feel more limited, I want to spend less time on cooking while having more structured opportunities to reconnect with friends.
The Perils of the Street
In a way, the Street (where all the eating clubs are) is a fraught place.
As someone who wears the hijab and does not drink, I often have to choose which activities to sit out of and how I want to show up on the dance floor.
As a person of color, the Street is a place that confronts me with the predominantly white nature of Princeton. (Who is looking for the pretty Black girls on the Street?)
Throughout my experience of Street week, I continuously need to ask the clubs I’m visiting about their financial aid policies. The crux of my decision is reduced into a math problem: do I want to make friends or do I want to save money?
I have found my conversations with club members to be less draining than I thought they would be. I have been trying to be myself, whatever that means.
I don’t know if I’ll get into an eating club, and that’s okay.
I let my identities prevent me from exploring the street for so long, so this is me trying to put myself out there. This is me being open to the experience.